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christopher simmons: compassion, empathy, passion

Written by in Profiles

random observations from the chris simmon (mine/sf) presentation…

What defines “Good Design”?  Deanna Kuhlman Leavitt once told me in an interview, “Any relationship I enter into must begin with two things: compassion and empathy. If the person has that, I can deal with just about any type of person.”  I think Simmons and Leavitt would like each other (if they don’t already).  “Good design”  always exhibits these qualities because only those with it can do it.


“obesssions make my life worse and my work better”*

What makes design good? What is “good”?

Good design informs.

Good design is memorable.

Good design delights.

Good design is effective.

Good design responds.

Good designers look for help.

Good designers reach and stretch.

Good design has joy.

Good design people, planet, profit + pushes.

Good design reflects something good in you.

Michael Vanderbyl’s 80/20 Rule

Says Chris Simmons of MINE/SF , “‘Eighty percent of the work we show [a client]  we will (0r can)  justify,’ Michael Vanderbyl once told me, ‘the other twenty percent requires no explanation.’ That 20 percent is YOUR passion. YOUR voice. It is what makes the work unique, diffrent and special. It is the  fourth element in the ‘quadruple bottom line.'”

In my opinion, Chris Simmons of MINE/SF proves again that the definition of “Good Design” lies in clarity of intent and ingenuity in execution. Glaser’s quote “The purpose of design if to inform and delight” boils it down to the essence, but Simmon’s case by case exposition shows how “Good Design” can respond to issues  of social or cultural concern with thoughtful execution in the public and private sphere. “We exist to advance the profession — our work must reach beyond the specific client need or intent. It must reflect something good in ourselves.”

“Sometimes,” Simmons advised the gathering, “sometimes the solution is to simply walk away from the client. You have choices to make, too.”


[*from a public art installation utilizing $30,000 in pennies]